Safe Return To School

COVID Safe Return to School


Sterling’s priority is the health, safety, and well-being of our students, employees, and school community, as well as social, emotional and academic learning. Sterling plans to remain in-person throughout this school year. To minimize the spread of COVID-19, Sterling will continue to use the StrongSchoolsNC document to guide our  COVID-19 health measures recommended by the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and to determine what precautions are needed to keep our students, staff, and community healthy in a safe and welcoming environment for our new school year.

In the event of a classroom quarantine, Sterling will have a temporary learning plan in place. In the event of a state school closure, Sterling will have virtual learning plans prepared.

Face Coverings

All Sterling staff, students (age 5 and older) and visitors will be required to wear a cloth face covering while indoors, even if they are vaccinated.  Masks will be optional for children under 5 years olds and for everyone while outside.  Sterling will regulary review face mask requirements.  County health officials state that a much larger percentage of students must be vaccinated before requirements can be relaxed.

Exceptions to face coverings are people who:

  • Should not wear a face covering due to any medical or behaviorial condition or disability (including, but not limited to, any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious or incapacitated, or is otherwise unable to put on or remove the face covering without assistance; 
  • Is/are seeking to communicated with someone who is hearing-impaired in a way that requires the mouth to be visible;
  • Is/are giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience;
  • Would be at risk from wearing a face covering at work, as determined by local, state or federal regulations or workplace safety guidelines;
  • Has found that his or her face coverings is impeding visibility to operate equipment or a vehicle; or
  • Is a child whose parent, guardian or responsible person has been unable to place the Face Covering safely on the child's face.

All students, staff and visitors at Sterling are expected to wear cloth face coverings while indoors, except while actively eating or drinking or during designated mask breaks. Requests for exceptions to this rule will be considered on a case-by-case basis for students/staff with a medical condition or disability that renders mask-wearing harmful or medically inadvisable.  Students or staff who previously received a face covering accomodation during the 2020-21 school year do not need to reapply. In order to be approved for a face covering exemption, Sterling requires staff or student Parents/Guardians to submit a Medical Exemption Form with a licensed healthcare provider completing the relevant sections. Exemption requests should be emailed to

Physical/Social Distancing

When possible, Sterling will continue to maintain physical distancing in the classroom.

For lunchtime, students will have the opportunity to eat outside, when possible.  When eating indoors, screens will be provided, when necessary. 


Sterling will continue the practice of hand washing during key times: Upon arrival to classroom, before and after food, after restroom, after blowing nose or coughing/sneezing, after touching objects used by multiple people and after recess.

If soap and water are not readily available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer will be provided. If your child has sensitivities to hand sanitizer, please communicate this with your child’s teachers so they can provide your child other opportunities to clean their hands.

To learn more about CDC recommendations, click here.

Healthy Spaces

Sterling’s buildings and classrooms, especially high-touch areas, will be cleaned and disinfected throughout the day and every evening with the use of EPA-approved disinfectant for SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Current cleaning and disinfectant protocols will continue to be reviewed and enhanced in terms of frequency and intensity. 

Water Fountains

In response to COVID-19, Sterling students will be prohibited from drinking directly from water fountains. All students are encouraged to bring their own bottled water or reusable water bottles. All water bottles should be clearly labeled with the student's name.  It is the student's responsibility to keep track of their water bottles and take them home for regular cleaning.

Stay Home When Sick

All students and staff will follow our sick protocol as detailed in our Parent Handbook.

Anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 and has not met the criteria for returning to school will not be allowed to be on campus, with the following three exceptions:

  • Individuals who are fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms do NOT need to quarantine after a close contact. Individuals should get tested 3-5 days after exposure and wear a mask around others until receiving a negative test result.
  • People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered and do not have symptoms do NOT have to quarantine.​​​​​
  • Students who are not fully vaccinated after a close contact in a classroom or other school setting if masks were being worn appropriately and consistently by both the person with COVID-19 and the potentially exposed person do NOT need to quarantine. This is based on updated CDC guidance and studies that have shown extremely low risk of COVID-19 transmission in classroom settings when face masks were being used appropriately by both the person with COVID-19 and the potentially exposed person, as well as multiple layers of prevention measures in place to prevent transmission in school settings. This applies to exposures in classrooms, other in school settings, and school transportation but does not apply to exposures during extracurricular or athletic activities. This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting.
COVID-19 Reporting and Contact Tracing

Each individual’s health information is a private matter. No one should publicly declare another employee or student as sick. In the event others need to be notified of a suspected or positive case of COVID-19, local health officials will notify them and provide them further instructions. To protect individual privacy, notifications will not identify anyone by name or contain information that could be used to identify them.

Sterling will report positive cases of COVID-19 to Wake County Public Health authorities and work with them for follow up and contact tracing. Families are notified through our messaging system when there is a positive case in their student's. classroom. Sterling will also report any cases weekly in the Friday Message.

If any person with COVID-19 was on Sterling's campus, while infectious, we will coordinate with local health officials to notify employees and families who were in close contact with the positive person while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with FERPA. NCGS130A-143, and all other state and federal laws.

Close contact is defined as being within six feet of someone with COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes over a 24-hour period. 

In the event of a case of COVID-19 at Sterling, the affected area will be systematically disinfected. Our disinfectant is EPA-approved for SARS_CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 


Visitors will be allowed on Sterling's campus, provided they follow all safety protocols listed here.


At this time, Sterling will not be requiring proof of vaccination or regular testing.  We will continue to follow guidance from NCDHHS on COVID symptoms and quarentine period.

North Carolinians age 12 and over are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. Visit for more information and to find a free vaccination site in your area.